Building a lucrative second hand market with Kalkidan Legesse founder of Sancho’s and Owni (episode 372)

Kalkidan Legesse is the Managing Director of Sancho’s an ethical and sustainable fashion and lifestyle bricks and clicks boutique. Founded in 2015 they now do 8-1500 orders a month.

Drapers (the UK’s fashion industry magazine) named Kalkidan in their 30 under 30 list for 2021. AND she’s also the founder of Owni (called Shwap when we recorded), an easy way for brands to add a resale marketplace to their business.

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About Kalkidan

Kalkidan worked for various NGOs with a goal of doing sustainable development projects. However, she found that to create the most impact in the lives of impoverished people, getting into business and fashion would be a more straightforward way to go.

She created Sancho’s in the hopes of creating more fair jobs, particularly in Ethiopia where she’s from. She’s put together different brands to make it easy for consumers to make a difference as they shop.

About Sancho’s

  • Based in the UK
  • Sells online and in their physical store in Exeter, UK
  • Ships worldwide
  • Is on Shopify
  • Sells their own products and also carries hundreds of other ethical and sustainable brands

The Team

Sancho’s is run by Kalkidan and her business partner, Vidmantas. She takes care of the creative side including marketing, while he covers business and financial management.

They have a brand manager who does majority of their sourcing and content creation and also have a two-person team in their Exeter store.

What’s At The Core Of Sancho’s?

At Sancho’s, Kalkidan says they have core criteria to maintain their vision of being a place for sustainable fashion. Raw materials should be natural, organic, and regenerative. Labor should have fair trade credentials. 

What they do at Sancho’s is regularly assessed against these core criteria, and Kalkidan always coordinates with their suppliers about certain aspects of staying on their platform.

Letting The World Know

Like other businesses, Sancho’s uses content marketing and social media to communicate their values.

In 2020, the brand’s engagement and online sales grew as the Black Lives Matter movement became front and center, and people began to find out about Sancho’s principles and ideals. It was then that Kalkidan realized that nothing substitutes virality for business marketing and storytelling.

About Owni (formerly Shwap)

Owni is the world’s first circular fashion marketplace. It’s a platform that creates product listings for you based on what you’ve already purchased from Sancho’s and allows you to resell unworn clothing or peer-to-peer resale.

Kalkidan says that on average, a UK household has at least a thousand pounds worth of unused clothing. Shwap is the place for these pieces of clothing to continue circulating in the marketplace, earning revenue for retailers while staying environmentally sustainable.

How to get integrated into the Owni marketplace

  • If you’re on Shopify – get the app
  • If you’re on a different platform contact the Owni team for integration steps

eCommerce Book Top Tip

eCommerce Traffic Top Tip

  • Have an easy-to-use website that loads fast to optimize your conversion rate.

Tool Top Tip

  • Kalkidan and her team operate with baseline work at the core. It’s a great way to keep track of everyone’s tasks and activities, which allows them to see what’s working and what’s not, and adjust accordingly.

Growth Top Tip

  • Your customers will show you what products they want, and when you’ve identified the key items that generate revenue, scale production as well as marketing.

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